Today we’re joined by Lancelot Schaubert, about whom it is fairly hard to write a fifty word biog. His Amazon page says that ‘he has sold his written work to markets like Tor, The New Haven Review (Yale’s Institute Library), McSweeney’s, The Poet’s Market, Encounter and many other similar markets. He reinvented the photo novel through Cold Brewed and was commissioned by the Missouri Tourism Board to create another that fictionalises and enchants the history and culture of Joplin, Missouri.’ I enjoyed poking around his website, The Showbear Family Circus, which is full of resources and experimentation, and which reminded me of when Peter Gabriel was reinventing multimedia in the 1990s. He’s got a new book out TODAY (Schaubert, not Gabriel) and more about that anon, but first let’s get to his picks:
Thanks for having me on for Secret Library, Richard. I really love recherché, so I was half tempted to give you a list of ten books and ten words on each, but I’ve narrowed it down to three. Well…two and a series. They’re not necessarily the three most influential, but once you start weeding out translations of classics (Ovid, Dante, the Bible, and even Gilgamesh go out), obscure bits of the canon (Boethius, Bonaventure, de Charney, the Bhagavad Gita, Edda, and other myths — particularly Sumerian, Gaelic, Gothic, and Cherokee), and the key voices in my genre (I write in like four genres so that cuts out everyone from King to Card, Lewis to Le Carré, Rowling to Doyle, Sparks to Spencer), I’m left with non-canonised, non-genre staples that inform my thoughts.
Tricky wicket, that.
People don’t read as much of the canon or classics as claim think they do (I’ve spent concerted effort on it myself and everyone who claims to ‘hate’ the canon can neither tell me what it is, why it exists, nor whether any — for instance — black men like Augustine or Arabs like Gilgamesh or black Jews like the wife of Solomon or Asians like Sun Tzu are included). However, I can concede — for the moment — both the more obvious and more obscure parts that I find helpful.
That leaves us with an odd list of influences, for sure:
The Dark Tower by C S Lewis.
Not King’s Dark Tower. Not Tolkien’s reference to the Dark Tower in The Two Towers. And not Browning’s poem. C S Lewis wrote a prequel or something similar to his space trilogy entitled The Dark Tower. It’s far more Norse or Gothic influenced in contrast to the more Byzantine and Arthurian ending in That Hideous Strength. Though Strength answers almost every question of consciousness, artificial intelligence, and questions of Decarte’s demon — whether we’re living in a simulation — Dark Tower by Lewis focuses more on parallel universes and travel into the past. It is, in my opinion, the real finish he originally envisioned. And, frankly, is something like metafiction. It — combined with his ideas in The Seeing Eye — are where I first got the core ideas for my long-planned, long-delayed fantasy series in Gergia and The Vale. Both combined with Sayer’s The Mind of the Maker also unveil how I _think_ about fiction.
The Complete Works of Chesterton by G K Chesterton
Specifically volume 2 but also The Ballad of the White Horse and The Man Who Was Thursday alongside various articles spread throughout the collection. Chesterton thinks as I think. His use of paradox, of linguistic poetry and humor in the course of the argument or plot rather than mere punchlines is how I aspire to write, though in an American voice. He succeeds where Twain failed.
Resurrection of the Son of God by Dr N T Wright
Dr N T Wright was an Oxford fellow and internationally renowned archeologist and historian. This one book by him — an 800-page tome that features citations from basically every major and minor work from 600 BCE – 300 CE and many others besides — proves, unequivocally, that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was a historical event that actually happened. Read that again. Wright’s tome has yet to be seriously refuted by any scholar. It has also yet to be properly digested by the public as one of those books that only comes around once in a century, but it offers incontrovertible evidence. If you accept its claims, it will change you. But it’s a slog to read: a huge root system with a massive oak that blooms about 600 pages in. Worth your time.
Cheers Lance. So: The Bell Hammers, out today. Set in Illinois and Tennessee in 1941 and 1966 it promises pranks, oil, protest, jokes between newlyweds and ‘one hilarious siege of a major corporation.’ It sounds rather wild and surreal, unusual and literary. You can get it here (all links are affiliate links).